A couple miles from my house, there is a taqueria. I’m a lover of Mexican food, so I notice it every time I drive past. On the side of the building beneath their name is the accolade ‘Sacramento’s favorite taqueria.’ As much as I enjoy good Mexican food, I have never visited this restaurant, but if it were the city’s favorite place to enjoy delicious beans, rice, cheese and tortilla in endless combinations you’d think it would make some sort of blip on the Mexican food radar. The only reason I know about this taqueria is the prominent location of their restaurant, not the exuberance of their patrons.
This is reminiscent of my philosophy class in community college, years ago. For whatever reason, the professor talked about a brand of mayonnaise. The word ‘best’ is in the brand name of the spread, but it is most definitely not the best food. Not best for you, and not best in taste.
It seems the people who play more fast and loose with language than any other spectrum of society are those people called ‘advertisers.’ We don’t tend to pay much attention to advertisements, but they surround us. Some studies say as many as 3,000 ads a day bombard our senses. You wake up to an ad on your clock radio; the paper during breakfast tells of a sale on slacks; the billboards on your commute flash by on your way to work; spam emails fill your inbox; ads bombard you across the Internet; the magazines at your dentist’s office are at least half-full with ads; watching a bit of television before bed, more ads in between your shows. We are surrounded.
That’s not to say every single ad is a hyperbole wrapped in Comic Sans or voiceover. But who thought it was a good idea to say a certain brand of gum could prevent you from getting a DUI? Or that cereal could mean the difference between life and death for grandma?
Being bombarded with an average of three ads per waking minute of the day, many of them playing fast and loose with language, it bleeds inward. It degrades our sense of what is appropriate. We begin to lose the idea that words mean enough on their own without our help pumping them up to larger and grander things.
Sometimes a taqueria is just a place to eat beans, cheese, rice and tortilla in endless combinations, and that is fine.
Writer: Michael Benson
Location: Sacramento, California
Michael Benson is a writer living in Sacramento. He loves the art of storytelling, from the movie screen to the printed word. He dreams one day of telling his own story that way. And of planting a seed in his backyard, growing a magic beanstalk and kickin’ it with giants.